If it’s no longer about money, about budget cuts or being more efficient. If it’s about being practice led rather than finance driven, if it’s about effectiveness rather than cost then one outcome of the response to Convid might be to finally make a reality of the integration of health and social care.
If hospitals are not to be overwhelmed then patients need to be moved to nursing homes and residential care homes, more places need to be funded, care businesses financially supported. If social isolation is the key strategy in preventing the rapid spread of the virus and reducing deaths amongst vulnerable groups then adult social services, the local authority, the voluntary, faith and not for profit sector need an emergency funding package similar to that produced for the economy last week by the treasurer. Removing the financial barriers to supporting people in their own homes and in care homes will free up hospital beds.
What may start out as a crisis measure could turn out to be the long term solution to an ageing population those in the field have been demanding. If we can find the money now, if we can see the benefits of increased funding, if the public mind set is radically shifted then politicians may be emboldened.
In the longer term we could use this crisis to raise the status of care work, be that nurses in hospitals or the community and care assistants in Homes and in the community but that may be over optimistic. The Second World War provided opportunities to women and was a powerful argument for equality of opportunity . But when the war was over women were expected to return to being house wives and home makers. I hope society can take this opportunity to have a rethink about the value we place on some historically undervalued areas of work.
If Covin finally made politicians tackle issues they have been avoiding as too difficult then some good may come out of this terrifying situation we find are selves in.
Blair Mcpherson former Director of community services, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson